Some of the gadgets we use today — like instant cameras, mini-TVs, and more — were actually first introduced decades ago. Check out some of the most notable after the jump.
300mph Motorcycle – 1935
Fred Luther “seeks 300mph” with a custom motorcycle that’s powered by a 6-cylinder Plymouth engine — making its debut in the July, 1935 issue of Modern Mechanix.
The 1,500-pound machine has a wheelbase of 85 inches and an over-all length of 115 inches. The frame is a standard one which has been lengthened and reinforced with steel tubing. Luther steers his motorcycle through two large sprockets connected by a 3/4-inch chain. The steel plates, mounted in front of the rear wheel, act as brakes when lowered
Wrist-Watch Radio – 1947
First introduced in 1947, this wrist-watch radio used a “new miniature radio transceiver being developed by the U. S. Bureau of Standards”, capable of receiving/transmitting short waves while also picking up standard radio broadcasts.
This world’s smallest microtube was made possible by the elimination of bulky wires, which have been replaced by a silver chloride circuit stenciled on a slice of plastic or ceramic material. Developed as a result of co-operative research with industry, the miniature tube has various military applications aside from its use in the wrist-watch radio
Instant Camera – 1947
Edwin H. Land, former president of the Polaroid Corporation (1947), invented the world’s first instant camera. Here’s how it works:
With his camera, you snap the shutter and turn a knob; 60 seconds later you have a finished, dry print. The Land camera takes its pictures in the conventional way, but inside it, in addition to the film roll, there is a roll of positive paper with a pod of developing chemicals at the top of each frame. Turning the knob forces the exposed negative and the paper together through rollers, breaking the pod and spreading the reagents evenly between the two layers as they emerge from the rear of the camera. Clipped off, they can be peeled apart a minute later
3D Television – 1953
This 3-dimensional television system from 1953 consisted of an “efficient system of optics which puts an image from one lens on the TV-camera plate immediately followed by the alternate lens image” — “or it may be accomplished with two television cameras switched electronically”.
A square-wave generator alternately cuts off electronically first one camera, then the other, producing 15 images from each camera. Then these are transmitted in the usual fashion using the same impulses, and nothing need be done to upset the transmitting standards
Home Televiser – 1970
Motorola and CBS partnered to develop the “Home Televiser” for business and educational use in 1970 — touted as a “miniature TV station”. One drawback, it was priced at a hefty $795 ($4005 – 2005 dollars).
It plays color—or black-and-white—film cartridges through your color —or black-and-white—TV. It’s the Teleplayer.
Calculator Watch – 1977
HP introduced the world’s first calculator watch (HP-01) in 1977, at the price of $650 ($2109 in 2005 dollars).
It computes. Whether interactively or not, it adds, subtracts, multiplies, divides; performs chain, mixed chain, serial, and mixed serial calculations; finds percentages, changes signs. Computes to 11-digit accuracy and rounds the display to seven digits.
Micro TV – 1979
This nifty Sinclair Micro TV made its debut in the September 1979 issue of Scientifican American — priced at a whopping $705 ($249.95 without inflation). It offered a 2-inch tube with a resolution that resembles “that of a clear sharp photograph”.
The Sinclair TV comes complete with an American AC adapter and charger, ear phones, carrying case, rechargeable batteries and a built-in antenna for both VHF and UHF. It also comes with a cigarette lighter power converter, so you can watch all your favorite TV channels from your boat, plane, motor home or car without even using your batteries